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First this essay will sketch the current significances of ‘child ‘ and ‘young individual ‘ which are derived from legislative act, although it should be made clear that these definitions are non stiffly adhered to and may, hence, do some disagreements when comparing England and Wales with other legal powers. I shall see statistical informations as respects to the figure of kids and immature people in detention in England and Wales, reconviction rates ( and how these are ascertained ) and the effects on immature people of being in closed conditions, peculiarly in footings of substance maltreatment and mental wellness issues. This essay will besides discourse options to custody both in footings of viability and the comparative costs. Finally I will discourse whether the age of condemnable duty should be increased in line with the remainder of Europe and analyze whether tutelary sentences for immature wrongdoers should be abolished.

Between 1995 and 2009 the entire prison population in England and Wales grew by 32,500 or 66 per cent. England and Wales presently has the highest imprisonment rate in Western Europe at 154 per 100,000 of the population[ 1 ]. On 6 November 2009, the prison population in England and Wales was 84,522. Although France has a similar sized population, they have merely 59,655 captives, and in Germany with 20 million more people the prison population was 73,592[ 2 ]. Most worryingly, projections indicate that the prison population in England and Wales will go on to increase and could make more than 100,000 by 2014[ 3 ].

The current significance of ‘child ‘ can be found in the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 s.107 ( 1 ) which defines a kid as being under the age of 14. The Criminal Justice Act 1991 s.68 defines a ‘young individual ‘ as being under the age of 17 ( antecedently 18 under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 ) .

Between 2000 and 2007, there was a 13.2 per cent addition in the population of kids and immature people in the ‘secure estate ‘ which includes Young Offenders Institutes, Secure Training Centres and Local Authority Secure Children ‘s Homes. However figures produced by the Youth Justice Board show that in January 2010 there were 2,096 kids and immature people under the age of 18 in detention which is a decrease from some 2,726 the twelvemonth earlier. In relation to the figures for 2010, 1,992 wrongdoers were male and 104 were female. Young Offenders Institutes catered for 1,712 of those in detention, 241 being held in Secure Training Centres and 143 in Local Authority Secure Children ‘s Homes. Please refer to Appendix A for farther dislocations.


For peculiarly sedate offenses such as slaying, a justice has no alternate but to enforce a tutelary sentence. For lesser offenses, a tutelary sentence may be imposed as a signifier of penalty, as a hindrance, or an undetermined sentence for public protection ( IPP ) . It is ever hoped that a tutelary sentence will help the rehabilitation and instruction of an wrongdoer so as to cut down the likeliness of reoffending in a more serious mode in the hereafter.

The rule purpose of the young person justness system is to forestall offending by kids and immature people[ 4 ]Section 44 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 states that “ every tribunal in covering with a kid or immature individual who is brought before it shall hold respect to the public assistance of the kid or immature individual.

Before make up one’s minding to enforce a tutelary sentence on a kid or immature offender the tribunal must guarantee that all the statutory trials are satisfied:

that the wrongdoer can non decently be dealt with by a all right alone or by a young person rehabilitation order

that a young person rehabilitation order with intensive supervising and surveillance

or with furthering can non be justified, and

that detention is the last resort

and in making so should take history of the fortunes, age and adulthood of the immature wrongdoer.[ 5 ]

The Justice Secretary Jack Straw reiterated that “ prisons are, as they should be, foremost and first topographic points of penalty, chiefly through the want of autonomy but besides through a government behind bars which is tough and just. At the same clip we must recognize that the populace are non protected, nor the taxpayer best served, unless they are besides topographic points of reformed behavior and rehabilitation ” .[ 6 ]

Particularly in footings of kids and immature people rehabilitation is cardinal ; both in footings of cut downing the likeliness of reoffending in the hereafter and in footings of assisting the immature individual acquire their life back on path. In June 2008, the Children, Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls promised “ a ternary path attack of tough enforcement and early intercession to undertake the causes of violent and antisocial behavior and support for childs ” .[ 7 ]

The Youth Justice Board Strategy for the Secure Estate, published in 2005, stated that in the instance of kids and immature people, “ detention should be used peculiarly meagerly because of their dependant, developing and vulnerable position ” .[ 8 ]The Criminal Justice Act 2003 provinces that the tribunal must non go through a tutelary sentence unless it is of the sentiment that the offense, or the combination of the offense and one or more offenses associated with it, was so serious that neither a all right entirely nor a community sentence can be justified for the offense.[ 9 ]

Young person practicians and kids ‘s charities remain profoundly concerned about what is considered to be unneeded tutelary sentencing of kids and immature people in England and Wales. It is widely observed that these two states, reflecting the low age of condemnable duty, have more kids and immature people in detention than any other legal power in Western Europe. In 2008, the United Nations Committee for the Rights of the Child found that “ the figure of kids deprived of autonomy [ in the UK ] is high, which indicates that detainment is non ever applied as a step of last resort ” .[ 10 ]

Research by kids ‘s charity Barnado ‘s in 2008 showed that 95 per cent of kids aged 12 to 14 who were given a tutelary sentence were non convicted of a serious offense and 82 per cent had non committed a violent offense. The charity ‘s research besides showed that 35 per cent of kids aged 12 to 14 in detention did non look to run into the detention thresholds every bit defined in the Powers of the Criminal Courts ( Sentencing ) Act 2000. For many of these kids and immature people it is clear that a sentence served in the community would be more appropriate due to the detrimental effects a tutelary sentence can potentially hold in the long term.


The usual method for measuring the extent to which reoffending has taken topographic point following an intercession is to determine whether or non an wrongdoer has been reconvicted in the two old ages following the intercession compared with a control group which has non received the intercession.[ 11 ]Some young person surveies nevertheless use a 12 month follow up period due to the steep rise in the age-crime curve in the mid to late teenage old ages.[ 12 ]

Reoffending following a tutelary sentence remains high with over 70 per cent of immature people being reconvicted within 12 months of being released from detention. The figure of reoffences per 100 kids aged 13 old ages was 532 compared to 349 for immature people aged 17.[ 13 ]

The figure of proved offenses committed by the 2008 cohort was 51,084, down from the 62,344 offenses committed by the 2000 cohort, despite an addition in the size of the cohort from 41,176 in 2000 to 44,837 in 2008. The most frequent types of offenses committed by the 2008 cohort were force ( not serious ) , larceny and condemnable or malicious harm ; please see Appendix B. On norm, wrongdoers in the 2008 cohort took 128 yearss to reoffend.[ 14 ]

The Children and Young People in Custody describe 2006-2008 found that 60 per cent of immature work forces and 62 per cent of immature adult females had been in detention more than one time, with 6 per cent of immature work forces and 9 per cent of immature adult females holding been in detention more than five times.[ 15 ]It is clear that the demands of kids and immature wrongdoers are non being met in the tutelary scene.

In England and Wales reoffending is estimated to be ?11 billion every twelvemonth, without sing the unquantifiable costs in footings of victim agony and decreased public assurance in the condemnable justness system.[ 16 ]The figure of kids and immature people being given tutelary sentences in England and Wales and the degree of reoffending upon release indicate that detention is an expensive and uneffective tool for turn toing young person offense in the twenty-first Century.[ 17 ]

It is good documented that holding a parent in prison is one of the hazard indexs for piquing behavior in kids and immature people. “ If we continue to trust so to a great extent on detention as a response to youth piquing we will intensify this on-going hazard for today ‘s coevals ‘s ain kids ” .[ 18 ]

A SmartJustice study undertaken in 2008 found that two in three people believe that prisons are ‘universities of offense ‘ and 65 per cent feel that they are non effectual in cut downing immature people ‘s piquing. Research has shown that 55 per cent of the public believe that better parenting and 42 per cent think that more constructive activities for immature people would hold the most consequence on cut downing offense.

There is grounds to back up the positive influence of wise mans in cut downing reoffending by those at hazard. Research has shown that reoffending can be reduced by between 4 and 11 per cent through mentoring programmes run by local Youth Offending Teams.[ 19 ]SOVA ( Supporting Others through Voluntary Action ) is one of the taking administrations to offer such programmes which have been shown to better immature wrongdoer ‘s ego regard, employability and supply them with a positive function theoretical account.

Three types of intercession have been linked with a decreased likeliness of reoffending ; contact with a probation officer, go toing a prison occupation nine and go toing a victim consciousness class. Such findings should nevertheless be interpreted with cautiousness as they merely indicate whether captives participated in programmes non whether they were really completed.


Mental wellness jobs coupled with drug and intoxicant maltreatment are common topographic point amongst immature people in detention, with an estimated 95 per cent agony from a mental upset ( s ) , substance abuse jobs, or both.[ 20 ]It is ill-defined what per centum of wrongdoers enter detention already enduring from such jobs and how many offender ‘s jobs are a direct consequence of detention.

Surveies have shown that mental wellness jobs in the general population of immature people have been estimated at 13 per cent for females and 10 per cent for males aged 11 to 15. Within the condemnable justness system mental wellness jobs with respect to immature people are far more prevailing, runing from between 25 and 81 per cent, with those in detention being at the higher terminal of the graduated table. Figures suggest that rates of mental wellness jobs are at least three times higher for those within the condemnable justness system and it is considered that there are three chief grounds for this ;

the original hazard factors that led to their offending besides predict, in the general population, mental wellness jobs

assorted facets of piquing itself may do mental wellness jobs.

interactions with the condemnable justness system are nerve-racking and may on their ain lead to anxiousness and depression[ 21 ]

Self injury is common in detention, peculiarly amongst immature people. In 2008 there were 2,040 studies, with a sum of 892 wrongdoers being considered ‘self-harmers ‘ . The mean figure of persons in Young Offenders Institutes during 2008 was 2,427 which equates to 37 per cent of kids in prisons harming themselves on a regular footing. In 2004, Adam Rickwood became the youngest kid to perpetrate self-destruction in detention in Britain. The 14 twelvemonth old hanged himself after carers at the Hassockfield Secure Training Centre used restraint techniques which had non been approved for usage on immature wrongdoers. The medical diary The Lancet studies that immature males in prison are 18 times more prone to perpetrate self-destruction than those of the same age in the community.[ 22 ]

A study entitled ‘Juveniles in Custody ‘ by HM Inspectorate of Prisons and Youth Justice Board in 2003/04 found that around a tierce of kids felt insecure at some clip in detention and one in 10 kids said they had been hit, kicked or assaulted by a member of staff.

A tutelary sentence frequently makes it more hard for a immature individual to happen employment after their release. A condemnable strong belief may deter possible employers from using ex-offenders, who are lawfully obliged to unwrap their strong belief ( s ) until they are considered ‘spent ‘ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Certain strong beliefs can be treated as ‘spent ‘ after a period of rehabilitation which depends on the length of tutelary sentence. However in the event that the sentence was more than 30 months in length the strong belief will ne’er go spent.[ 23 ]

Many kids and immature people feel unsupported and need extra aid with happening adjustment upon their release ( around 15 per cent of immature people do non hold suited adjustment arranged ) every bit good as accessing instruction and/or preparation.[ 24 ]Such “ deficiency of support and unstable adjustment agreements frequently mean that wrongdoers experience trouble reintegrating with society once they are released from prison ” .[ 25 ]


The New Economic Foundation study entitled ‘Punishing costs: How locking up kids is doing Britain less safe ‘ found that “ prison costs the public bag about six times more than directing a kid to Eton ” . Surveies have besides suggested that prison really increases the hazard of reoffending by 3.9 per cent.[ 26 ]

Supplying a topographic point in a Young Offenders Institution has been estimated to be around ?60,000 per twelvemonth, the cost of maintaining a kid in a Local Authority Secure Children ‘s Home around ?215,000 and about ?160,000 to direct a kid to a Secure Training Centre.[ 27 ]In add-on to these one-year costs the New Economics Foundation estimates that “ tutelary sentencing costs taxpayers an excess ?40,000 per immature wrongdoer due to the increased likeliness of unemployment and reoffending ” .[ 28 ]

The Youth Justice Board spends 10 times more on detention than on offense bar.[ 29 ]In the instance of less serious offenses this money could be better spent on cut downing reoffending through community sentences which address the causes of reoffending.

A scope of non-custodial disposals for kids and immature people are available to the tribunals. These include mulcts, conditional and absolute discharges and community orders. The Detention and Training Order ( DTO ) was established by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and can be given to kids and immature people aged between 12 and 17 ( non under 14 unless a ‘persistent wrongdoer ‘ ) . The first half of the sentence is served in detention and the 2nd half is served in the community under the supervising of the local Youth Offending Team ( YOT ) . Cost

The Youth Rehabilitation Order, established by Part 1 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, is replacing nine of the current community sentences including the supervising order and the drug intervention and proving order.[ 30 ]It is anticipated that the order will simplify sentencing and supply lucidity. In order to promote community condemning, grounds must be given if an option to detention is non used for those wrongdoers on the detention threshold. Certain conditions can be attached to the Youth Rehabilitation Order, including curfew and electronic monitoring demands and the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme outlined below. Cost

Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programmes ( ISSP ) were developed after research suggested that merely 3 per cent of immature wrongdoers were responsible for 25 per cent of all young person offense. Since 2001, the Youth Justice Board has invested about ?80 million in order “ to set up the ISSP as the most robust option to detention for fecund immature wrongdoers ” .[ 31 ]The programme is intended to guarantee that the immature individual addresses the causes of their behavior, makes recompense for their offenses and any hazards posed by the immature individual to the community are managed, whilst reintegrating the immature individual back into the community.[ 32 ]The programmes are more dearly-won than community sentences at ?6,000 for a 6 month programme[ 33 ]and a study commissioned by the Youth Justice Board found that nine out of 10 immature people were reconvicted within two old ages, although the frequence of offending was reduced by 39 per cent over one twelvemonth and the earnestness of offending was reduced by 13 per cent over the same period[ 34 ].

In the event that a immature individual pleads guilty to a first clip offense in the Youth Court s/he may be given a Referral Order which requires the immature individual to go to a young person wrongdoer panel. Such panel is made up of two voluntaries from the local community supported by a trained advisor from the Youth Offending Team. An understanding is reached between the immature individual, their parents and the victim, with the purpose of mending the injury caused by the offense and turn toing the causes of their behavior. Cost

The Reparation Order was established by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and is designed to help immature wrongdoers understand the effects of their offending and take duty for their behavior. The immature individual is required to mend the injury caused by their offense, either straight to the victim or indirectly to the community. For those kids and immature people whose place life is considered to hold contributed to their piquing the Intensive Fostering programme is another option to detention. The programme aims to keep a immature individual accountable for their actions whilst guaranting that they get the necessary support in order to turn to issues which may hold contributed to their offending. Cost

Community sentences are far less riotous to an wrongdoer ‘s personal life than a traditional tutelary sentence and the Ministry of Justice reported in 2008 that community sentencing had reduced reoffending by 7.4 per cent since 2000, whilst besides cut downing the of all time increasing job of overcrowding. Research undertaken by the Howard League for Penal Reform suggests that about two tierces of those in prison lose their occupations, one tierce lose their places and 40 per cent lose contact with their household. A survey undertaken by the Ministry of Justice in 2008 found that those captives who were visited in prison by a household member have a far lower rate of reoffending ( 52 per cent ) in comparing with those who were non visited ( 70 per cent ) .

Renewing justness has been described as seeking to “ equilibrate the concerns of the victim and the community with the demand to reintegrate the wrongdoer into society ” by the Restorative Justice Consortium. Studies show that victim engagement is high at 77 per cent with around 60 per cent of victims believing that renewing justness works better than prison, around 40 per cent of victims want to run into their wrongdoer following a offense, and between 75 and 95 per cent of victims who choose to take part state it met their demands.[ 35 ]Although apparently successful, such undertakings are presently applied in an ad hoc mode with few victims go toing a renewing justness panel, which is likely to be a consequence of low public consciousness.

Strong investing into renewing justness “ could take non merely to higher satisfaction degrees among victims of offense, but besides to positive consequences for the wrongdoers engaged in the procedure ” .[ 36 ]A Renewing Justice Consortium survey revealed that reoffending rates were much lower when wrongdoers were involved in renewing justness undertakings with merely 40 per cent of 10 to 17 twelvemonth olds reoffending within the 12 month period following release compared to 71 per cent of those who had been given a tutelary sentence. Research by the Ministry of Justice found renewing justness undertakings to be ‘value for money ‘ with nest eggs of between ?8 and ?9 for every ?1 spent on execution.


In 1993, two 10 twelvemonth old male childs, John Venables and Robert Thompson, were convicted of slaying yearling James Bulger. They were detained at Her Majesty ‘s Pleasure in a Local Authority Secure Home and were finally released on licence when they turned 18. Their rehabilitation had been a success, or so it seemed. About 10 old ages on, John Venables has been recalled to prison for transgressing the footings of his license. The Ministry of Justice have non released inside informations of the breach, although the Justice Secretary Jack Straw has confirmed that it is a serious allegation.

The onslaught on two immature male childs in Edlington near Doncaster in 2009 necessarily brought comparings with the Bulger instance. A 10 and 11 twelvemonth old male child were convicted of dangerous bodily injury with purpose, robbery and deliberately doing a kid to prosecute in sexual activity and were given an undetermined sentence with a minimal term of five old ages in a Local Authority Secure Children ‘s Home.

As a consequence of these instances the age of condemnable duty in England and Wales has been brought into the limelight. Experts have recommended that the current age of condemnable duty, 10, be reviewed with the position of raising it to the United Nations recommended lower limit of 12 and sooner to the European norm of 14. In Scotland Government Ministers have confirmed that the age of condemnable duty is being raised from 8 to 12. The Children ‘s Commissioner, Dr Maggie Atkinson, believes England should look to other European states ‘ methods of covering with immature wrongdoers that are “ more curative, more household and community-based and more about reparation than merely locking person up ” .[ 37 ]Despite enduring unfavorable judgment from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UK Government has no programs to raise the age of condemnable duty in England and Wales.

The philosophy of doli incapax raised the given that a kid between the age of 10 and 14 could non organize the necessary condemnable purpose ; nevertheless the philosophy was abolished by subdivision 34 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. Recently it has been suggested that the rule should be re-established, although community sentences should be used in favor of imprisonment for kids under the age of 14.[ 38 ]

At the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King ‘s College London, manager Richard Garside argues that “ if people are non considered able to make up one’s mind about vote, marrying, go forthing instruction, holding sex or even acquiring a tattoo until they are 16 or 18, it does non do sense to keep 10 and 11 twelvemonth olds reprehensively responsible ” . Dr Eileen Vizard, a child head-shrinker with the NSPCC ‘s kid wrongdoer service, agrees. “ Scientific grounds about kid development indicates that 10 twelvemonth olds are non capable of take parting to the full or reasonably in a condemnable test ” .[ 39 ]Condemnable proceedings affecting kids and immature people between the ages of 10 and 17 are normally heard in the Youth Court, although certain instances including slaying and colza must be heard in the Crown Court due to the serious nature of the offense and due to the fact that the Judgess have greater powers of condemning than in the Youth Court.

In other European legal powers the condemnable age of duty varies between 12 and 18. The term appears to hold different significances as the ‘official ‘ age of condemnable duty may non needfully be the youngest age at which a kid can be involved with the justness system, due to being in struggle with the jurisprudence, as demonstrated below.

In the Netherlands it is 12, 13 in France, 14 in Germany and Italy, 15 in Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, 16 in Spain and Portugal and 18 in Belgium. Although the age of condemnable duty in Belgium is far higher than in England and Wales, younger kids can be dealt with through the condemnable justness system even though they are non being given a condemnable countenance. Similarly in France, kids every bit immature as 10 can look before a justice who can enforce a community or instruction order. ( Janes, L 2008 )

Experts have described Italy ‘s attack to kids and immature wrongdoers as a “ theoretical account of tolerance and non-punitiveness from which England and Wales has much to larn ” .[ 40 ]In Italy Judgess are given a broad discretion to “ excuse kids, deem the offense to be irrelevant on the footing that it is fiddling, or supply them with alternate options to custody including pre-trial provisional periods ” .[ 41 ]Merely about 500 immature wrongdoers under the age of 18 are functioning a tutelary sentence in Italy, compared to around 3,000 in England and Wales at any given clip.[ 42 ]

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has reported that the Convention and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice 1985 ( Beijing Rules ) “ call for the acceptance of a child-orientated system that recognises the kid as a topic of cardinal rights, and stresses the demand for all actions refering kids to be guided by the best involvements of the kid as a primary consideration. ” The Council of Europe has besides produced guidelines sing the most appropriate intervention of kids and immature wrongdoers.[ 43 ]


Having examined the assorted attacks adopted by other European states in footings of the age of condemnable duty and holding researched the statistics associating to immature wrongdoers functioning tutelary sentences elsewhere, it does look that England and Wales are somewhat out of measure.

There are doubtless certain offenses for which detention is warranted. In such instances it is critical to guarantee that the period of detainment is being used efficaciously to fix the immature wrongdoer for reintegration into society every bit good as hopefully returning to employment, instruction or preparation.[ 44 ]Unfortunately, the grounds ( on reoffending, incidence of mental wellness issues, deficiency of support to happen adjustment and employment on release, etc. ) points non merely to an low failure to accomplish these purposes and objectives together with a attendant loss of public assurance but besides to the enormously high cost of this option. Taxpayers ‘ money should, if at all executable, be spent elsewhere – in renewing justness, for illustration, since this appears to better carry through the demands of the victims of offense, society at big and the immature wrongdoers themselves instead than punitory steps which cause even more harm to these frequently already-damaged persons. Considerable attempts should be made to raise public consciousness of the chances which are available ( such as the rights of victims to go to renewing justness panels ) and the voluntary sector utilised more extensively ( to pull on for the enlisting of wise mans, etc. ) .

It is highly encouraging to detect that, subsequent to the voicing of concerns by so many administrations and persons, there has been a really important decrease in the figure of kids and immature people in detention between January 2009 and January 2010 ( a bead of 23 per cent ) harmonizing to the Youth Justice Board ‘s figures. Hopefully, this is non a ‘one-off ‘ incidence but is declarative of an knowing reversal in the old tendency and one which will be maintained so that the money released can be made available for more responsible and productive investing.

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